The idea of a show's cast being like a family is a cliché as old as the theatre.
At the new Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, however, some cast members don't need a theatre family. They have actual family members with them on stage.
The Des McAnuff-directed production — which began at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival — features not only the father-son actors Sandy and Jonathan Winsby, but also the brothers Julius and Jason Sermonia. The four have appeared in all three of the musical's engagements since summer 2011: in Stratford, Ontario; La Jolla, CA; and now New York.
As novel as the notion may seem to an outsider, being in the same show is old hat for the Winsbys and Sermonias by now. This is the fourth stage production the Winsbys have shared. And the Sermonias have also teamed up a few times.
"We've done three other productions before," said Jonathan Winsby. "Camelot is one." (Superstar ran in repertory with Camelot at Stratford in 2011.) "In 2004, we did Pirates of Penzance at a small theatre on the west coast of Canada. A couple years later, I was playing Gaston in Beauty and the Beast and we had lost our Maurice. He came out and filled in because he had played that before."
These double castings are not always coincidences. Jonathan recommends his father for jobs, and Sandy does the same.
"I think we should work as a package deal if there are roles for both of us," joked Jonathan. "I think some people quite like the fact that there's a father-son team doing shows with them. You don't hear that often. People say, 'Oh, that must be so wonderful for you.' Yeah, but we're used to it by now. Now, I almost expect to see him there at rehearsals. I just appreciate being able to spend time with him. Most adults don't get to see their father every day. But we get to pretend to be apostles every day in New York City."
Among the people who enjoy that family feeling is McAnuff. "He was telling me [in Stratford] that he was excited that he had cast us both in the show," said Jason Sermonia, who plays John to his brother's James, "and had us working as brothers in the show, and being brothers in real life."
It was Julius who told his brother about the Superstar audition. "Julius was at the festival for a couple years, and I was out in Los Angeles doing The Lion King," Jason explained, "and they had auditions for the show. I flew back for just one morning to audition and had to fly right back to do a show in L.A. I was really stoked to do it."
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